I’ve never heard or read so many people say they’re glad to see a year come to an end. Of course, the hope is that 2018 will be better and the surreal, tragedy-filled and civility-unraveling past 12 months will fade from memory. Natural disasters turned so many lives upside down. Political rancor and careless rhetoric divided our nation and made us feel less safe. Evil nature of all kinds was exposed. For me, I’ll always remember 2017 as the year of fear.
As I try to process it all sitting here on New Year’s Eve trying to write this blog post, I’m depressed and in kind of a funk. For me, personally, it’s been the most difficult year of my life. I’m staring at the keyboard, and it’s just a bunch of jumbled up letters. It makes no sense, which is fitting. The world makes no sense. Thankfully, my fingers know where to go, subconsciously disconnected from the conscious noise and confusion swirling around inside my head.
Snap out of it, I tell myself. Exorcise all the negative energy and buck up. So, I decided I wouldn’t dwell on the nightmarish details of a year gone bad that affected so many lives in such a negative way. I wish we could all wake up tomorrow morning without a hangover and realize it was just a bad dream. Dark clouds give way to a blue sky where the sun is shining. Children noisily play outside in their carefree happy innocence. Neighbors walk their dogs and the birds sing. Somewhere a mother gives birth, and it’s the happiest moment of the parents’ lives.
With those positive thoughts in mind and the understanding that the world won’t change without a divine power higher than ourselves known as love, our own courage and our full participation, I want to share a few inspirational quotes from scripture and brave men and women who devoted their lives to change.
Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that is revealed through us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation is subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation is groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the fruit of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our liberation, the redemption of our humanity. For in this hope we are rescued. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. [Romans 8:18-25]
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid; for the Lord our God goes with us. God will not leave us or forsake us. [Deuteronomy 31:6]
The Lord is my protector and provider; He gives me everything I need. He makes green pastures for me. He leads me into stillness beside calm waters. He restores my soul. He always leads me on the right path. Even though I face death, I am not afraid of it, for I know that you are with me; trusting in your power and goodness comforts me. [Psalm 23:1-4]
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [speech excerpt]
This is a Day of Affirmation, a celebration of liberty. We stand here in the name of freedom. At the heart of that Western freedom and democracy is the belief that the individual man [and woman], the child of God, is the touchstone of value, and all society, groups, the state, exist for [our] benefit. Therefore the enlargement of liberty for individual human beings must be the supreme goal and the abiding practice of any Western society.
The first element of this individual liberty is the freedom of speech: the right to express and communicate ideas, to set oneself apart from the dumb beasts of field and forest; to recall governments to their duties and obligations; above all, the right to affirm one’s membership and allegiance to the body politic-to society-to the men [and women] with whom we share our land, our heritage, and our children’s future.
Hand in hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard, to share in the decisions of government which shape [our] lives. Everything that makes [our] life worthwhile-family, work, education, a place to rear one’s children and a place to rest one’s head -all this depends on decisions of government; all can be swept away by a government which does not heed the demands of its people. Therefore, the essential humanity of men [and women] can be protected and preserved only where government must answer-not just to the wealthy, not just to those of a particular religion, or a particular race, but to all its people. – Robert F. Kennedy [speech excerpt]
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
Shadows on the wall
Noises down the hall
Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Bad dogs barking loud
Big ghosts in a cloud
Life doesn’t frighten me at all
Mean old Mother Goose
Lions on the loose
They don’t frighten me at all
Dragons breathing flame
On my counterpane
That doesn’t frighten me at all.
I go boo
Make them shoo
I make fun
Way they run
I won’t cry
So they fly
I just smile
They go wild
Life doesn’t frighten me at all. – Maya Angelou [poem excerpt]
Knowing what must be done does away with fear. – Rosa Parks
Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead. ― Louisa May Alcott
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one. – John Lennon “Imagine” [lyrics excerpt]
When we review the distant and recent past and ponder the pregnant possibilities of the future, perhaps we can say in unison “we’ve been here before, and we shall overcome.” We can also say that positive change seems to take baby steps rather than giant leaps. It’s as if humankind is still learning to walk. Think about this analogy. A tiny baby learning to walk overcomes its fear of falling and takes one step of faith at a time. I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning to walk and overcome fear.
This may be wishful thinking, but I hope for a better year starting tomorrow. However you pray, pray for justice, pray for love and pray for peace. May your new year be filled with dreams realized.